Thursday, 11 May 2017

Labour Party fighting an uphill battle in a country seemingly determined to sleep walk into Tory led oblivion

It is difficult to believe that the country appears to be sleep walking towards another five years of Tory government.

The election was allegedly called over that self-imposed wound, known as Brexit. The one thing we do know about the Brexit process is that the country is likely to be poorer as a result.

Theresa May called the election, she claimed, on the basis of a need for a stronger negotiating hand with the European Union. A line that should be easy to counter, given May’s failed efforts thus far to deal or engage with the EU.

The reality ofcourse is that she saw a great opportunity to strengthen her hand further in her own party and the country.

A vulnerable Labour Party, a weak Liberal Democratic Party and UKIP in disintegration - largely because the Tories have adopted all their policies. Things could only get worse for May and the Conservatives over the next three years, with austerity measures biting ever harder and prices rising - courtesy of the weak pound. So let’s have an election. Credit to her for nerve in going for it, unlike Gordon Brown in 2007, when in a similar position of strength.

There is, though, much wrong with the country, regardless of what happens over Brexit. The NHS needs more funding, not cuts. Unbelievably, schools are desperately seeking to raise money in order to continue to provide a decent education for children – amid cuts. Public services generally are being cut to the point of non-existence. Some three million children are going without food during school holidays, whilst one million people go to food banks. All this in the fifth richest country in the world Inequality continues to grow to dangerous levels.
Elsewhere, the government seems determined to continue with defence and foreign policies that are at least 100 years out of date. Britain no longer has an empire, does not need and cannot afford nuclear weapons. What is more leaving the EU will further diminish the standing of the country in the world. At present, Britain seems set to become a small country increasingly cut off in the north of Europe.  

Labour has come up with some imaginative solutions, including building 100,000 council houses a year, taking the railways back into public ownership, lifting the living wage, restoring trade union rights, raising investment in education (including cutting tuition fees) and the health service. The top 5% and corporations are to pay more in tax.

The attitude of the media has frankly been scandalous. Led around the country by May and her team, who treat them with disdain, adopting an attitude of speak when your spoken to. However, rather than be outraged, most appear to lap it up.

A large number of mainstream media journalists, effectively do the job of the Tory press office for them. They focus constantly on attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and trashing the policies the party put forward. Meanwhile, May’s high handed approach goes virtually unchallenged, with Tory policy, no matter how ludicrous or damaging assuming the standing of the norm.

It is against this barrage that the Labour Party has to try to make progress. In reality, Labour should be out in front in the polls, not 20 points behind. Instead, it seems that voters will once again vote to become poorer again, as they did with the referendum vote last June.

The one hope moving forward is that the public might wake up to what the Tories are doing and vote for the alternative. Failing that, the Labour Party programme can lay the basis for a future challenge to the Tory hegemony. That ofcourse assumes the party does not rip itself apart amid recrimination and infighting following 8 June – a big if.  

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